When it comes to a social media strategy, you start with understanding the objectives, goals and expectations at-hand. Are you looking to build an audience or drive traffic to your website? Do you already have the community but struggle to see engagement or outputs that impact your business? Are you interested in brand awareness and perception or driving conversions? These are the questions that nearly ever brand is or should be asking as it relates to their social practice.
Whether you have 500 or 5 million followers, here are a few ways that you should be engaging with your existing audience on social media.
1. Support your customers through timely engagement
Facebook Messenger has ramped up its capabilities for brands in an effort to get more businesses focusing on their social presence as opposed to website communication tools. They’ve taken what was once a website feature or third-party resource and built it right into Messenger. And if you don’t think there is an audience there, you’re wrong. Forbes reported that the Messenger app has hit 800 million monthly active users and is the fastest growing app in the U.S. right now. For context, Twitter has 320 million monthly active users. But supporting your customers goes beyond Facebook Messenger. Responding to questions through Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest in a timely manner is just as important, because timing is everything. Failure to notice a pressing matter can change a consumers’ entire perception of your brand, primarily because our communication expectations as consumers are changing drastically. No more snail mail to find out who won the cereal box giveaway; it should be on Twitter.
And when a consumers’ message is not urgent, it’s still pressing to engage quickly. Why? Because your customers matter, even when it’s a selfie with your product or a store check-in. Every time a consumer engages with a brand, the window of opportunity begins to dwindle thanks to our fast-moving tempo of life and “swipe-right” instant gratification worldview. It’s your responsibility to move quickly, efficiently and strategically.
2. Retarget through paid social
If your business or organization has a website, then it likely includes a call-to-action button or link.
- “Contact Us”
- “Learn More”
- “Get a Quote”
- “Buy Now”
If this is not the case, we should have a separate conversation sooner than later.
Today, there are amazing capabilities that exist to target consumers that visit your website and end up on social media; even those that aren’t looking at your fan page. Have you ever noticed after spending some time looking at that new pair of boots online, that it appears on the side banner of your Facebook profile or as a pop-up on a recently-visited website? At first glance, it feels a bit “Big Brother”, but these retargeting strategies exist with the consumers’ interests in mind. These secondary touch-points are higher-percentage conversions than those you’d find starting with cold leads and widely-cast nets of traditional advertising.
3. Create and share content that matters
I’ve heard it at many conferences and in far-too-many Twitter chats. The idea out there that content is king. But is it true? A few years ago, social platforms started rolling out large paid social programs to monetize their organizations, affirming brands and users alike that their platforms would continue to support content that was original, entertaining, educating or flat-out interesting. While I truly value quality content, I’ve come to terms that it’s no longer just about content. If it were, I wouldn’t be getting sponsored posts about poorly-made goods or fake Ray Ban sunglasses for $7.00. It’s about placement. Timing. Strategy. Dare I say it; it’s about money.
I credit Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that have created algorithms and review processes to ensure that the spam and junk of the social space gets weeded out in some capacity, but the idea that content is king is far from the current truth. Your social media strategy should not and can not rely solely on content, especially if you are not happy with your existing audience size and engagement rates. So does that mean content quality can decline or remain where it is now? Absolutely not.
Your audiences are getting smarter and smarter every day as it relates to uncovering content that is dynamic, compelling or interesting and disposing of poorly-designed content or pushy sales messaging. And now it’s on you to make sure that your content is valuable to your audience. Today, having fantastic content will not make you stick out above the rest, because the expectation is that everyone is creating great content. It’s the new norm and it’s time to stand by it before you get left behind.
4. Respond to critiques and criticisms
As much as you hope and wish to define your brand, it is actually being defined by individuals rather than by your company. Your brand is your consumers gut feeling about your product, service or organization. In The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier says “It’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.” Your role as a business owner or leader is to create experiences that will impact the consumer perceptions about who you are and why it matters. Within social media, your response to consumers means the world. Reviews are a powerful feature in websites and apps including Facebook, Yelp, Google Reviews, TripAdvisor and many others. Think about this: 70% of all Yelp reviews are 3, 4, or 5 stars, so of the 95 million reviews written to date, the vast majority share positive sentiment about great local businesses. That’s a lot of your customers who are taking the time to say really lovely things about you. On the flip side, maybe your customers have some really constructive feedback to give. Either way, they want to talk to you! These reviews have the ability to make or break a business, thanks to the power of the people that write thoughtful reviews. Whether your best product was attacked or your newest employee received glory and praise, you have the opportunity to engage with these consumers and make sure they know you value their insight. It’s low-hanging fruit given they’ve already had an experience with your brand. Block time out of your calendar to read these reviews and engage with it accordingly. If you don’t have the time, then work with an agency to help create processes that will allow you to engage. And do so with poise; responding in raw emotion or in a voice inconsistent to the way you’d talk to a customer in your store can and will get called out by digital citizens that are writing these reviews.
5. Measure what matters and respond strategically
The biggest shift in social media beyond paid social and advertising dollars has been the analytics component. Brands are now able to measure beyond vanity metrics including likes or comments. Thanks to Google Analytics and paid social dashboards, you have the ability to track website traffic, social assisted conversions and customer demographic information. This data needs to drive your decision-making, because the market has gotten smarter and is paying more attention to detail. Gut instincts and trend hypotheses still have value, but thanks to the massive amounts of data accessible to nearly every brand, you need to be approaching your daily decisions with both quantitative and qualitative insights. Know that this process takes time and a unique skill set. When I speak to entrepreneurs about the challenges of getting their business running, 9 out of 10 times, the biggest challenge is doing something that they never had to do before running a business; preparing a budget or handling the accounting. Capturing and analyzing your social data is one of those things that needs to become a priority for your brand or business. Allow this data to shift your approach to make smarter business decisions that ultimately could change the way you promote your business. Engaging with your existing audience using data analytics IS smart social.